FERPA FAQs Overview
FERPA – FAQs for Students
What are my rights
The Federal Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) affords an eligible student, in general, the
following rights regarding your “education record”:
- To inspect and review
- To seek amendments to a
record that you believe is incorrect
- To control the
disclosure of your record to others
How do I know if I am an eligible student?
You are an eligible student if you are currently enrolled at
Bridgewater State University or if you previously attended BSU. FERPA does not
apply to applicants who have been admitted but who have not yet attended.
Which educational records are covered under FERPA?
Education records are records that are directly
related to you and are maintained by BSU or a party acting for or on behalf of the
university. Examples include grades, transcripts, class lists, student
course schedules, as well as your financial information and discipline
The education record does not include:
College of school and major field of study
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight, height, and age of members of athletic teams
- Dates of enrollment
- Class level (i.e. Freshmen, Sophomore etc.)
- Enrollment Status (full-time-part-time)
- Peer graded papers
Who has access to my record?
Under FERPA, a school may not generally disclose personally
identifiable information from an eligible student’s education record to a third
party without the written consent of the students. However, FERPA allows
colleges and universities to classify part of the education record as directory
information, and directory information may be disclosed without your written
What is the difference between directory
information and non-directory or
personally identifiable information?
FERPA allows colleges and universities to classify part of
the educational record as directory information. Typically, schools may
disclose directory information without the written consent of the student. Additionally,
as a state institution, BSU must comply with Freedom of Information requests
and supply directory information when responding to those requests.
BSU has identified the following as directory information:
- Information that is not recorded – that is, personal knowledge
- Sole possession records (kept in the sole possession of the maker, used as a memory aid and not accessible or revealed to any other person).
- Law enforcement records
- Certain employment records
- Treatment records
- Alumni records
- Certificates, degrees and awards received, including deans list and honors
Non-directory or personally identifiable information is any
education record not classified as directory information. Examples of
non-directory information are: Social Security number, Student ID number,
Grades, GPA, & Class schedule. This information is not generally released.
The University may however under FERPA release such data to certain persons
- Official of the University with a legitimate
- Officials of another school in which a student
seeks to enroll
- In compliance with a judicial order or lawfully
- In connection with an emergency
- If the student is in violation of the
University’s drug or alcohol policy
Can I prevent the university from disclosing my directory information?
Yes, you can complete a request
form and return it to the Registrar’s Office. It is important to note that
with this restriction in place, BSU may not be able to verify degree or
enrollment status nor publish awards received by the student. The restriction
will remain in effect until the student submits a written request to have it
Can I authorize the university to speak to someone about my education
If you would like to authorize the university to speak with
someone about your record (including non-directory information), you must complete
Authorization Form, clearly identifying the individual(s) as well as the
specific information related to the education record that the university may release. It is important to know that
completion of a FERPA release form does not require the university or its
employees to disclose information. Disclosure is at the sole discretion of
Bridgewater State University.
What do I need to do to review my education record?
If you wish to review your education record, submit a letter
to the registrar making the request. The Registrar’s office has 45 days to make
arrangements for you to review your records. It does not require that copies be
provided. If you are unable to come to the university to review the records,
the registrar may provide copies or make other arrangements for the review.
What if I find an error that I want to correct?
If you believe there is an error in your record, you should
submit a written request to the registrar requesting that your record be
amended, identifying the specific error and the correction that you believe
should be made. If it is determined that the request cannot be made, you will
be notified of your right to a hearing. If, as a result of the hearing, the
decision remains not to amend the record, you have the right to insert a
statement in the record setting forth your views. That statement will remain
with the contested part of your record for as long as the record is maintained.
It is important to note, however, while the FERPA amendment
procedure may be used to challenge facts that are inaccurately recorded, it may
not be used to challenge a grade, an opinion or a substantive decision made by
a school about a students.
How can I file a complaint of alleged failure to comply with FERPA?
If you believe that your rights under FERPA have been
violated, you may file a complaint with the federal Family Policy Compliance
Office (FPCO). The complaint must contain specific allegations of fact giving
reasonable cause to believe that a school violated FERPA, and it must be
submitted to the FPCO with 180 days of the date that the complainant knew or
reasonably should have known of the alleged violation. Please see the FPCO
contact website for more information.
Further information regarding FERPA can be found at U.S. Department
of Education website.